All roads lead to courthouse
In other county government news of significance related to neither Target nor Library Guy…
— The county commission has a road resurfacing workshop Tuesday morning where commissioners will be told what they already know and the administration will push heavily on a sales tax referendum.
If this sounds familiar that’s because it is. Commissioners had pretty much the identical talk back in November when they chucked the idea.
Logically, it made perfect sense: The county has a lot of bad roads, it costs a lot of money to fix them, and the best way to get that money the fastest is through a sales tax.
Plus, those silly tourists would pay a chunk. It’s like getting something for nearly nothing.
What could go wrong?
People hate it because they don’t see the benefit, and they feel they’re being punished because the county let roads deteriorate over the years. I don’t think that criticism is fair, but the benefit issue is a big challenge. Everyone pays the sales tax, but not everyone sees the benefit.
Interestingly, while the presentation goes into detail about how the sales tax would make these ills go away, there’s no such detail about how a millage increase could achieve the same purpose.
There’s a huge difference. Sales tax needs voter approval, meaning commissioners are off the hook if it fails. Property tax increase requires 3 commissioner votes (or 4 if the tax increase reaches a certain point), and no public vote. So those 5 commissioners decide how big a deal this is instead of laying all that on the rest of us.
I acknowledge the county commission is in a pickle. Certain segments of the county are rightly complaining about the condition of their roads. The staff is blunt about what will happen to other roads if the county doesn’t catch up. And none of this talk even includes secondary roads that also are way behind.
But those segments don’t make up enough to pass a referendum, and we’ve seen that time and again. There’s no reason to think that’ll change, unless there’s a pendulum swing I’m not seeing.
Here’s a suggestion: Let’s figure out the property tax calculation to fully fund the road resurfacing program the way it should be. There’s nothing wrong in asking the question. What’s wrong is dismissing it beforehand because you’re afraid of bringing up the topic.
Then we would have the side-by-side numbers for both sales tax and property tax, and we’ll have an interesting conversation about that.
The county could lay it out to the public: Here’s our revenue goal, here’s the road work we’re going to do, and here are the two best ways to pay for it. Public, what do you think?
Since no one in his/her right mind would push a sales tax referendum THIS year, there’s some time to air this out. It’s a big decision and shouldn’t be made in a hurry.
— Real quick, regarding the Betz Farm property. There are three offers. The highest of the three came in Monday from a Sarasota developer for $6 million — $500,000 over ask and nearly $640,000 above the appraisal.
Good news,right? Um…not looking for trouble, but I have a question:
Is anyone selling property these days based on appraisals that are 18 months old?
That’s all I have to say about that.
— Tuesday is going to be One of Those Days at the county commission. The road workshop is in the morning, regular meeting at 1 with a full agenda, and some library gig at 1:15 that, I’m told, may take a few minutes.
If you can spare some positive energy, aim it toward the courthouse. We can all use it.
Have an awesome Citrus County Tuesday my friends.
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Mike Wright has written about Citrus County government and politics for 35 years.